TRAVERSE CITY -- It doesn't seem like much at first glance, but those extra few months can be a massive boon for a college player.
Like Traverse City St. Francis football star Max Bullough hopes it will help him, a semester head start helped propel Casey Townsend to a prominent role on a national championship team in the Maryland soccer program last year.
Townsend enrolled at Maryland a semester early, giving up his last year of prep basketball at Traverse City West and the senior prom to get in extra training with the Terrapins, which included spring games and a scrimmage against professional team Crystal Palace.
"It gives you extra time and a head start in getting to know your teammates," Townsend said. "You can get settled into the college lifestyle. It gives you extra time to get your feet wet before you have to go into the season."
Townsend made the All-Atlantic Coast Conference Freshman Team, ACC all-tournament team and was second on the team in goals (11) and game-winning goals (five). He started all 26 games as a true freshman.
"It makes it that much easier to transition into the regular season when you have a couple games under your belt," Townsend said. "If you can get some extra classes out of the way it means you can take less in the fall. That means you have less stress, which is always good for a student-athlete."
Townsend -- who scored his first collegiate hat trick on Tuesday against Duquesne -- said he has no regrets about leaving early.
"When you look back on it, you think about what it would have been like to play (basketball), but I don't regret it by any means," Townsend said. "I think I made the right decision. I don't think twice about it."